Hindutva is not a communal slogan, it’s about the nation

Published: Tuesday, Oct 11,2011, 17:50 IST
Hindutva, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Bergson, Muslim, Islamic

Whenever I am out of India, my vision of India turns sharper. I become less critical of all that's going wrong, and see with greater focus and contrast the sheer vastness, the heterogeneity and plurality, the pervasive human warmth and the miraculous auto pilot mode India functions in. Perhaps this is what inspired India's great poet and philosopher Allama Iqbal to write his ode to India, Saare Jahan Se Achchha, that he published first in 1904, and then as Tarana-e-Hindi in 1924.

Mohammed Iqbal was a Renaissance man of his time, with a brilliant education in India and Europe, deeply influenced by Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche and Bergson. He had a farsighted, insightful vision of society, encompassing tolerance, compassion and a great patriotic love for India. From Sare Jahan Se Achchha to his poems of respect towards Hindu Gods, calling Ram the Imam-e-Hind, Iqbal devoted much of his work in praise of India's composite culture. In his 1930 Allahabad address, he emphasised to the Muslim delegates of the Muslim League, "We have a duty towards India where we are destined to live and die." Later, when he was misunderstood as a supporter of Pakistan, he promptly wrote a letter rejecting this idea and stated that he had not presented the idea of a separate Muslim state; rather he wanted a large Muslim province by amalgamating Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Balochistan into a big North-Western Province within India. There is debate that as an ardent Indian nationalist, he experienced frustration at the inflexible, rigid stance of the political leadership during the Independence Movement in the 1920s and 1930s.

There was no BJP during those years, so the standard accusation of communalism cannot be pointed towards them for the religious divide that developed in the Independence Movement, eventually culminating in the creation of Pakistan. The onus of alienating the Muslims in pre-independence India can only rest on the Indian National Congress — for their repeated inability to deal successfully with the Muslim League, and their greed for power during those years — so much so, that large sections of influential Muslims went to the extent of exchanging their patriotism for the Two Nation call. Gandhi had left no stone unturned to enlist the Muslims in the freedom movement. Ignoring Jinnah's sensible advice, he even joined the Khilafat Movement. Unfortunate for the Muslims of India, Turkey itself made short work of the Khilafat. When it collapsed, one of the Mohamed Ali brothers even abused Gandhiji in language so foul as to be unworthy of any respectable gentleman. It is then that the RSS was born in the belief by no means unreasonable that Indians will have to fight for freedom without any help from the majority of Muslims.

The unpardonable and irreversible blunders of the Congress are documented in history, their refusal to share power with Muslims for one-third seats in the Central Legislature, or address their political security demands, the failure of the Nehru Report of 1928, under the chairmanship of Motilal Nehru with Jawaharlal Nehru as secretary (note the beginning of dynastic rule), and the ensuing "parting of ways" with Jinnah and his 14 points as a Muslim leader, and finally succumbing to the Two Nation Theory and creation of Pakistan.

The shock of 1857, where Muslims and Hindus had united, never left the British. Such a unity should never happen again, and must be prevented at all costs, through any means, fair or foul. This became the fundamental principle for governing India, and kept gathering strength in proportion to the strength of the Independence Movement. It started with separate electorates and reservations of the Indian Councils Act 1910, and progressing further in the Government of India Acts of 1919 and 1935.

At the time when the Congress should have negotiated these principles in the interest of national unity, in a spirit of give and take with the minorities, it failed to do so, playing right into the hands of the imperial powers. It remained rigid and stubborn, leading to a religious divide and eventually Partition. It is ironic that it is exactly these same principles that it employs today in the name of vote bank politics to stay in power. Reservations, religious and caste politics are presently the most potent multiple-use political weapons in Indian electoral politics.

It is tragic that Congress turned Pundit Nehru and his progeny into Gods, immune from scrutiny. Questioning or criticising their action or their ability to draw lessons from past history was treated as unpardonable crimes, deserving denigration and expulsion from the party, if not politics altogether.

The country is now entrapped in evil precedents created by unrectified fallacies of the past. It is not too late to rectify them to strengthen the concept of Hindutva and unite the polity. Hindutva is not a communal slogan of the Hindus or a religious concept; it is a national slogan, the secular essence of our Constitution, which citizens of all faiths and creeds swear allegiance to, separating state and religion, giving fundamental rights for religious and cultural freedom, and treating all citizens equally. In 1995, the Supreme Court of India held that Hindutva was not religion, but an ideological concept, a way of life which comprises a code of conduct to be observed by every individual in every sphere of personal and national activity, and includes respect and equal treatment to all religions

Our Constitution makers refused to imitate what was happening in the world of Islam. Every new state made Islam the dominant faith and almost every newborn state called itself "Islamic". In short, India opted to be "secular" but until the Emergency of the mid-Seventies, the word "secular" did not exist anywhere in our long Constitution. It conceded to everyone the right not only to profess and practise his religion but to propagate it too. Every religious belief and practice will compete in the free market of truth. The final judge for its validation will be the human brain, the seat of reason and logic. Congress has never explained what Indian secularism means. Its vote bank politics quietly suffers and swallows the humiliation of the Jama Masjid Imam advising his followers not to join Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement because his followers sing the Vande Mataram.

Neither Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi nor a single minister in the UPA Cabinet had the moral courage to reprimand the foolish cleric. All of them are willing to swim with the sharks not caring that Indian secularism is being eaten alive. Vande Mataram is not a BJP slogan or an RSS song. The Constituent Assembly of India has ordained that it has to be respected like our National Anthem. Indian secularism is facing a mortal threat fuelled by Congress duplicity and doublespeak. Congress is teaching the minorities that Hindutva is Hindu communalism, just because its spelling starts with "Hindu". I appeal to the minorities as well as the Scheduled Castes, Tribes and OBCs that Hindutva is their shield, guarantor of their security and dignity. Let them do nothing to weaken it.

Yes at the same time it behooves the BJP to acknowledge that demolition of the Babri Masjid was a crime. Historical wrongs cannot be avenged by unilateral violence of today. The story of Ram is a fascinating product of Hindu religious imagination. We must wait patiently till the ordinary Muslim by inner conviction shares Iqbal's view of Ram as the Imam-e-Hind. Construction of a temple in Ayodhya can wait until Muslims out of reverence for Ram lovingly join in its construction. Let us announce that we will instead construct on the disputed site a magnificent university of Religious Harmony and Secular Education.

— Ram Jethmalani

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